Ron Sirak

Let's See What You've Got

Continued (page 2 of 2)

Woods was special. Woods is special. No amount of money will ever suffocate his competitive fire. When he was at his best, Woods was the most talented and smartest guy in the game, but he also wanted it more than anyone else. That's a gift. You don't find that on the range.

Is that in Rory? The answer will begin to unfold in this run-up to the Masters, the first major of the year. Like his Nike stable mate, Woods, McIlroy plays this week in Tucson then heads to Florida for the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

For Woods, as he enters what should be a compelling next act to his remarkable career at the age of 37, there is a fascinating irony that the biggest obstacle to his goal of picking up the five majors he needs to break Jack's record of 18 could very well be McIlroy.

They have become friends, it appears, and Tiger has never liked to pal around with the guys he viewed as his biggest threats -- read that Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh. Maybe he's just trying to get into Rory's head and lull him into complacency.

In any case, here we go. The season gets serious now as pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training can only mean one thing: the Masters looms.

Wouldn't it be delicious if the Woods-Mickelson rivalry that was always a bit disappointing -- never producing a Nicklaus-Tom Watson Duel in the Sun moment -- morphs now into a Woods-McIlroy rivalry? And wouldn't it be even sweeter if Rory doesn't blink ?

Related: A side-by-side look at Rory's and Tiger's swings

Once again, I got the over. The Rory McIlroy who won the PGA talked about there being a time to celebrate and a time to stay focused, something he said he learned after that U.S. Open win, and that now was the time to stay focused.

And he did just that, winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship after the PGA before excelling in the Ryder Cup. Fasten your seatbelts, folks, we should be in for some exciting golf. We will see if Rory, who some say is a little soft around the edges, has a little Tiger in him. I got the over.

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